Flying – wind, and planes


As I geared up this morning, I thought I was over-dressing. I had a lot of layers on and was on the verge of starting to sweat as I was finishing. I had to go outside to get my helmet and gloves on. I was trying to hurry, as I was a few minutes late. I don’t know how that happens. I think I have enough time, but all those little details seem to always make me late.

I got on the road – and got into the wind. I hadn’t realized how strong it was until I was riding. I knew that I had made the right choice by putting on all the layers I did because once I got out of the neighborhood, I could feel the cold. I also saw, with a sinking heart, that I was getting close to the last gallon in my fuel tank, and I didn’t have time to stop. I should have enough, I thought, although, who knows with this bad winter gas? I was willing to risk it anyway.

The wind was fierce on the 101 going north. The low fuel light came on about 10 miles out. The dashboard readout said I had 39 miles left, as it calculated the range based on average gas mileage. I had 30 miles to go, so I was sure I had plenty of gas. But as I raced into the strong headwind, the number started to drop at an alarming rate. Then, I had enough stressing and thinking about it. I got off the freeway with about 12 miles to go. I was a distracted rider, and it wasn’t worth it. Luckily, I found a Chevron close to the freeway, and after a convoluted path, I turned in. I fueled up, and saw that I had quite a bit left after all; I should have trusted my bike and not freaked out at the numbers on the dash. I called my riding partner to tell him I’d be late, and finally got back on my way.

It was difficult to keep the bike on the road for the last leg of the journey. The headwind turned to a crosswind as the road curved, and I fought to keep the bike going straight. I was glad I don’t mind laying on the tank to be more aerodynamic. When I got to the meetup gas station, I said, “that was one of the most unpleasant rides I’ve ever had!” At least my riding partner, Hal, was understanding. Then we rode the final mile or so to our breakfast destination.

It was a nice breakfast, as always, good coffee and conversation, too. Our plan was to go up onto the observation deck after we ate and shoot some photos. The wind was howling at this point, and it was super cold. But I stayed up there long enough to get some good shots. We watched a plane come in for touch-and-go, probably practicing landing and taking off in a strong wind.

In this photo, you can see that the wind sock (behind the taxiing plane) is absolutely horizontal:

A couple of takeoffs:

On the way home, the wind was terrible only until I turned southbound, and then it was a tailwind. It was a lot quieter!  The rest of the ride was pleasant, the fast-moving, torn clouds were beautiful, and I made it home in time to get a lot of work done around the house. Lately, I am grateful for that, but soon I will be wanting to get back to the high mileage weekends we used to do.

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2 thoughts on “Flying – wind, and planes

  1. Personally, I think it is a good thing that you pulled in for gas when you did. Come on, you know of Murphy’s Law. As soon as you decided not to get gas, the headwind would have caused you to run out of gas just 1.3 miles before you reached the meetup station.

    Yes, we are also ready for you to get back to a weekend trip and give us the details. Have a good week.

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